Seventeen years of Treehouse talk

Seventeen years of Treehouse talk

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What's for supper? Unstuffed cabbage

Here is a non-recipe for unstuffed cabbage.

Start with: one pound ground pork; half a can tomatoes, frozen; 2 cups rice and lentils, frozen.
Add in: half a bag leftover shredded cabbage.
Brown the pork and stir in the rice and lentils.
Layer in a casserole with tomatoes and cabbage. I used too much cabbage so it ended up a little soupy but still tasty. Add salt and extra seasonings if needed.
Sprinkle with paprika. I also added a cupful of tomato sauce on top (not in photo). Bake at 350 degrees until heated through and cabbage is cooked.
Casserole out of the oven.
Eat with rye bread.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Things going on around the Treehouse

What is up around here? Besides spring coming?

Today was the local homeschool conference. Some years I have done workshops, but this year I was just an attendee. It is a good chance to see friends and get a look at how the world of homeschooling is going. Lydia went with me this year for the first time. She got lots of freebie pens and things, and found a purple Bible she liked for half price.

Mr. Fixit has been busy working on his fixing and selling. Did you know there are still people out there who like CB radios?

The Apprentice has been busy working out of town, but she will be here for Easter, next weekend.

I have not been writing as much here lately because I've been working on an off-blog writing project. I can't say much about it yet but when it's got more shape to it I'll let you know.

Homeschool Conference today!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Quote for the day: Paul Klee

"First of all, the art of living; then as my ideal profession, poetry and philosophy, and as my real profession, plastic arts; in the last resort, for lack of income, illustrations."   —Paul Klee.

(Gualtieri Di San Lazzaro, Klee. Praeger, New York, 1957, p. 16)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What's for supper? Black and white chili

Tonight's dinner menu:

Black and White Checkered Chili, from Saving Dinner. I added an extra can of white beans at the end because I found it too soupy.

Frozen breaded fish, for those that want it

Bread, carrot sticks, and other assorted leftovers.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Starting Term Three, school plans for the week (Lydia's Grade Eight)

Ten things on the list for this week's school:

1. Bible articles from this month's Mennonite Brethren Herald. It appeared in our mailbox and I thought we'd make the most of it.

2 & 3. Start reading our new Shakespeare play and Plutarch's life (Timoleon) for the term.

4. Read George Herbert's poems: Redemption, The Agonie, and Joseph's Coat.

5. Start reading Beyond Texting together.

6. Work on Churchill's New World, chapter 19, about "Cromwell's Terror."

7. Paul Klee, "Flower Myth."

8. The Seashell on the Mountaintop: Chapter 10 De Solido.  "Given a substance endowed with a certain shape, and produced according to the laws of nature, to find in the substance itself clues disclosing the place and manner of its production."

9. Keep reading Perelandra.

10. Start practicing for the Gauss Mathematics Competition in May.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

What's for supper? Chicken and spring things, now with recipe

Sunday dinner, first weekend of spring:

Roast chicken
Reheated rice
Butternut squash
Peach cobbler
Peach Cobbler
The batter is Bettina's Cottage Pudding, from A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband.
1 600 g bag frozen peaches (that's about a 20 oz. bag in Imperial)
A spoonful of butter or margarine, and a sprinkle of sugar

1 cup flour
1 2/3 tsp. baking powder (who wants to measure that? I just put in about 2 tsp.)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)
1 well-beaten egg
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp. melted butter (I have used canola oil and margarine)
1/4 tsp. vanilla or lemon extract (I used lemon)
Turn the oven on to 350 degrees F. In a greased casserole or pan, put the peaches plus a bit of butter or margarine and a little sugar. If the peaches are still frozen, put the pan in the oven while it is preheating and you are mixing the batter. Leave it in at least long enough so that you start to smell the peaches warming up. If the peaches are thawed, it still doesn't hurt to warm them up a bit before putting batter on them.
Mix the dry ingredients first, then beat in the egg and milk, adding melted butter and flavouring last. Remove the pan (carefully) from the oven, and spread the batter on top. It will be thick and will probably not go right to the edges, but that's all right, just do the best you can. Put it back in the oven and bake for about half an hour, until the cake part is baked through and starting to brown. I baked it uncovered, but if you would rather have more of a steamed pudding, you could put a lid on it or cover with foil. Makes about six servings.

Quote for Sunday: A preserved Cindy quote on leisure

"It is interesting how disconcerting this idea of leisure is." ~~ Cindy Rollins, Ordo Amoris blog (2010)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Blog pause for Spring Break

I am taking a few days off here to clean the Treehouse and work on a reading/writing project.  Happy Spring Break!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

CM Quote for the Day: A Full Reservoir

 "Now the thought that we choose is commonly the thought that we ought to think and the part of the teacher is to afford to each child a full reservoir of the right thought of the world to draw from. For right thinking is by no means a matter of self-expression. Right thought flows upon the stimulus of an idea, and ideas are stored as we have seen in books and pictures and the lives of men and nations; these instruct the conscience and stimulate the will, and man or child 'chooses.'" ~~ Charlotte Mason, Philosophy of Education, page 130

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Cherry Pi for 3-14-15

Sweet Cherry Pi(e)

1 unbaked bottom piecrust, pat-in is fine
1 bag frozen sweet cherries, partly thawed (on sale this week at Food Basics)
about 1/2 cup red jam, any kind, mixed with 1 tbsp cornstarch and a little water (I shook it up in the jam jar)

1 recipe favourite crisp-crumbles (flour, sugar, oats, oil, sprinkle of cinnamon)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spread fruit in crust. Top with jam-water-cornstarch mixture, then crumble topping. Bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees, then about 40 minutes at 350 degrees, until topping is light brown and filling is set. If you didn't add enough water to the jam and cornstarch, you may have a slightly stiff filling, but you can always add something nice like vanilla ice cream to go alongside it, and nobody will complain.

Friday, March 13, 2015

OK, now I am really afraid

You thought you'd had your shudder for the day? How about adult pre-school? (link to video)

P.S. Why don't these people who want to fingerpaint and dress up just homeschool their kids?

Some good blog stuff to pass on

A couple of blog posts you really shouldn't miss this week:

The Deputy Headmistress at The Common Room has started a series about the Charlotte Mason approach to composition. This is not just theory; the DHM has a whole lot of years of experience with this, both ups and downs.

The latest Seven Quick Takes post on Afterthoughts has a couple of good links to challenging articles. Plus a cute baby goat.

That's all for now! (Really, there's enough in there to keep anybody busy for awhile.)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

What's for supper? Potato dinner, change of flavours

Tonight's dinner menu, changed slightly:
Two skillet dinners, one with ground beef, one with romano beans; pizza sauce, celery, onion, tomato puree, mushrooms, leftover potatoes, seasonings. Italian cheese blend if you want.
An experiment-cake made with blueberries and half a bag of frozen cranberries. It is very soft and fruit-heavy, so definitely a fork-eater.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Looking for good definers

In How to Read a Book, Mortimer J. Adler spends some time on the problem of, literally, "coming to terms" with an author. That is, making sure that we understand how he defines or uses certain words, because one person who writes about "love" may mean something different from another.

In Concerning the Teacher, St. Augustine says pretty much the same thing:
"He merely calls the thing about which he was thinking by a name which is other than the one by which we call it. We should agree with him at once if we could read his mind and see directly the thought which he was unable to express by the words spoken and the statement made. They say that definition can cure this error, so that in this case, if the speaker were to define what virtue is, it would be clear that the controversy is not about the thing but about the word. Now I may grant that this is so, but how often is it possible to find good definers?"

What's for supper? Starts with P

Tonight's dinner menu:

Polish wieners
Potato casserole (chopped potatoes, vegetable broth, olive oil, smoked paprika, kosher salt)

Last night's fruit crisp.

Quote for the day: why not to rush through lessons

First posted here March 2013. From The Divine Comedy: III. Paradise, Canto V, translated by Dorothy L. Sayers and Barbara Reynolds.  Beatrice says to Dante:

Thou must sit still at table long enough
To let digestion work, the which would fain
Have more assistance, for this food is tough.

Open thy mind; take in what I explain
And keep it there; because to understand
Is not to know, if thou dost not retain.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Quote for the day: Critics can be their own worst critics

"I had grave doubts about my fitness to discuss the question of research in the humanities, because I have been deflected from everything that could conventionally be described as research, in the sense of reading material that other people have not read, or have read for a different purpose." ~~ Northrop Frye, "The Search for Acceptable Words," in Spiritus Mundi

What's for supper? Oven meal

Tonight's dinner menu:

Honey-mustard chicken
Baked sweet potatoes
Casserole of leftover Pasta with Garlicky Greens and Beans (mostly just the pasta) plus cheese, milk, broth, and extra seasonings

Cranberry-blueberry crisp.

Monday, March 09, 2015

The Sun is Out

Spring is on the way; it's up to 3 degrees (Celsius), sunny, and it's supposed to be warmer tomorrow.

Maybe I will even have a snow-half-gone photo to put at the top of the blog.

Term Two Exam Questions (Lydia's Grade Eight)

Some of these are from the online exam questions for AmblesideOnline Year 8; a couple were taken from original PNEU school programmes; and some are questions of my own invention.
Christian Studies
1. Tell back a) one of the Old Testament passages and b) one of the Gospel passages from your recent readings.
2a. How does the story of Perelandra seem to parallel that of Adam and Eve (so far)? How do you think it is going to turn out?
2b. Give some examples of ways that artists have tried to emphasize the humanity or the divinity of Jesus. If you were an artist trying to show what Jesus is like for your own age group, time and culture, how might you portray him (but not go "too far?") (You do not have to draw it, just give ideas.)

Questions are attached.
English Literature
1. Make a list of the chief characters in a) The Merchant of Venice or b) Fierce Wars, Faithful Loves, and write a short description of one out of EACH book. Make a list of favourite lines in the case of a).
2. What do you know of Sir Francis Bacon and his "new ways of wisdom?"
3 What poems by George Herbert have you read? Give the substance of two of them.

1. In what ways did Charles I set aside the Magna Charta? Describe the "storm that followed."
2. How did Puritanism affect English culture in the 17th century?

1. Describe, a), a journey across Tanzania from the coast to Lake Tanganyika, b), the island of Zanzibar. Give a rough sketch map.
2.  Give examples of the conflict that arose between Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke. What finally happened to show that they should go their own separate ways?
Natural History and General Science
1a. Explain in detail one of the scientific things that "don't make sense."  OR
1b. How can the universe be said to be "elegant?" Explain in as much detail as you can.
2. Describe some of the early work of Nicolaus Steno.
3. What do you know about lemmings? What principle does their life cycle illustrate?
4. Write either an interview, a journal entry, or a dialogue relating to one of the incidents from Exploring the History of Medicine.


1. What is the trouble with political power? Give examples.
2. Read either of the editorials marked from last week's newspaper, and write a response, based on your understanding of liberty and democracy.
3. What do you know of The Way of the Will? (How do we live best by using our wills?)

Reading Skill (How to Read a Book)
1. What are some legitimate ways of disagreeing with an author?
Picture Study
1. Describe a picture from this term's study of Albrecht Dürer.

Recite the memory work you have prepared.

Sing your favorite hymn from this term.

Show some work in handicrafts from this term to someone outside your family.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Lydia Knits Hats

Lydia started this school year barely knowing how to knit, and now she's up to double-pointed needles. Yay! (And thanks to the Apprentice for some coaching.)

P.S. Here's the pattern.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

What's for supper? Soup and bread night

Tonight's dinner menu
Split pea soup in the slow cooker
Country White Bread in the bread machine
Assorted leftovers from the rest of the week
Pineapple-Granola Muffins
Apples and oranges.

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Adapted from a recipe in The Perfect Basket, by Diane Phillips.


2 cups yellow split peas (one of the little bags from the grocery store)
1/2 cup brown rice (optional)
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper (I didn't have any so I used black pepper)
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth plus more water as needed
Some chopped frozen onion
A couple of carrots, peeled and chopped
Three stalks of celery, chopped

If you weren't going to do this in the slow cooker, you could start by sauteing the vegetables in a bit of butter or oil, then adding the split peas, broth, and seasonings. I just put everything into the slow cooker, adding water to fill it maybe three-quarters full. I set it on High for a few hours, then turned it to Low partway through the afternoon when it was bubbling hard. I think it would work fine to leave it on Low all day.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Herbartianism Made Fun and Easy: Eye of the beholder

Did you ever have an illustration for something just handed to you, so obvious that you didn't even have to think about it?

(one of the few videos I could find about The Dress that didn't include profanity)
"Perception of reality is not the same thing as reality." (SciShow, The Science of That Dress)
Chapter Nine of Herbartian Psychology, "Graphic Hypotheses," begins with something that was first mentioned in Chapter Three:
"It is true that in Reid's comfortable dogmatism we are assured that we perceive the outer world exactly as it is, and therefore we all perceive it alike. But Locke admits that the outer world may be modified in certain aspects,--colour, smell, sound, taste,--but in other more fundamental respects remain unchanged. According to this view, man is the measure of colours, smells, sounds and tastes..."
In other words, the size and shape of something may be fairly fixed and common to almost everyone; but on the other aspects, you're on your own. Referring back to his perception games in Chapter Six, Adams says, "Even a simple straight line may mean something slightly different to each new observer, and the greater the number of lines in a drawing, the greater the range within which its interpretation by different observers may vary." However, "when two persons are talking about the drawing that lies before them, there is at least something to go upon, there is a sort of least common denominator of thought, to which all the ideas of each party must be reduced before agreement can be expected." "The fact is that while our mental impressions of a given object are continually changing, they always correspond with each other, and to the given reality."

So there's room for personal interpretation, but there's also the possibility that someone doesn't understand, doesn't have the right information, is just inaccurate. Not everything is relative. The Dress may be seen as white and gold or as blue and black, but nobody has suggested that it's pink and purple, or that it's actually a ski jacket or a pair of boots.

What does this have to do with Herbartianism and education?

First and most practically, teachers can use graphic narrations to evaluate how well students understand something. Hence the value of Charlotte Mason science notebooks. Adams gives the example of student teachers reading Robinson Crusoe, who were asked to make drawings of Crusoe's tent based on the information given in the chapter. The story said that the roof was covered "with flags and large leaves of trees, like a thatch." Apparently some of them took "flags" to mean the Union Jack, and that's what they drew. They weren't stupid, just lacking information.

Second, Adams discusses the non-value of bad or misleading diagrams. If a diagram or an illustration is "an integral part of the idea it illustrates," then it can be worthwhile; otherwise, we might want to reconsider using it.  "Milton has been often praised for his reticence in not fully describing Satan. Can we say as much for the illustrators of The Pilgrim's Progress?" "There are certain things that are better left undrawn."

Third, we are given the detailed description of a "Map Robinson Crusoe's Island" contest.The Boy's Own Paper advertised the contest and offered a prize, and Adams says that over a hundred and fifty maps were submitted. The contest contained a couple of possible snags, although those weren't mentioned in the rules. The biggest one is, obviously, that not everything is given in the story, and some things must just be imagined; but the text also contains a few contradictions and impossibilities regarding the geography of the island, so even a careful mapmaker would have to deal with those. You can read more of the details in Herbartian Psychology at the site, but for now, the educational question becomes the double difficulty "of communicating an idea from one mind to another....The idea must be dissolved, as it were, in words, and then again crystallized out in the new mind....The concrete of one mind must be reduced to its abstract terms, and then rebuilt into the concrete of the new mind." It's like what happens when you beam somebody up on Star Trek.
And obviously, there's a risk of something misfiring. Words are tricky things. As was said in the last chapter, we have to make sure we're using the "same system" as the person we're talking to; a newer way to phrase it would be "on the same page." But we also have to recognize that our minds are all unique; we're not clones, and we don't see things exactly the same way. Our "apperception masses" are all different; to every lesson or situation, teachers and students all bring who they are, what they know, and their own ways of seeing. White or gold, or blue and black.

As a postscript: If the mind is a spider web, Adams says, a teacher may be seen as "a benevolent spider...whose business is not to make plain the already geometrically clear lines of the web, but to see that guiding apperception masses are so arranged that they shall lead ultimately to the centre, by the way, however crooked it may seem, that is best for each seeker." (I'm not sure whether these seekers are supposed to be younger spiders, or what.)

But oh dear, I don't like to be seen as a benevolent spider, do you? I certainly don't feel qualified to decide which way to the centre is "best for each seeker."

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

What's for supper when it really snows

Tonight's dinner menu:

Upside-Down Meatloaf from Saving Dinner, but with breadcrumbs made from garlic breadsticks, instead of rolled oats

Baked potatoes

Mixed green veggies and cabbage

Snowfall Cake, which is chocolate cake with some white chocolate chips leftover from Christmas added in and grated on top.

And it all goes in the oven together. Except the veggies.

What we did in school on Tuesday (Lydia's Grade Eight)

Mr. Fixit's Current Events: about snowballs, pipelines, and climate change.

Opening hymn: we are learning "O Lord, How Shall I Meet You?" by Paul Gerhardt. There are different tunes for this one, but we are singing it to a familiar tune, "All Glory Laud and Honour," the one used in the midi sample on There are also different translations, but we're using this Lutheran one; as printed in Mr. Pipes and Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation, it includes verses 1, 4, 5, and 7.

Poem for reading out loud: "Easter Wings," by George Herbert.

We finished chapter 9 of Perelandra.

Three chapters of Exploring the History of Medicine.

One page of grammar.

Hamilton's Mythology, finished a chapter.

Bible readings

Journey to the Source of the Nile, last reading for the term.

Our Roman Roots,
Lesson VIII, Day 1.

Monday, March 02, 2015

What's for supper? Bean chili

 Tonight's dinner menu:

Crockery Beanery, from Saving Dinner, which is a tomato saucy-bean-intensive chili. Or pasta casserole from the freezer if you preferred.
The Hillbilly Housewife's Garlic Breadsticks.

Too funny: "Olaf's song is better anyway"

School plans for the first week of March and the last week of Term Two (Lydia's Grade Eight)

Do this week's Bible readings. Read part of Chapter 5 in Seeing the Mystery.

Read up to Canto 12 in Fierce Wars, Faithful Loves.

Read some of Exploring the History of Medicine, Perelandra, and The Trial of Charles I.

Whatever Happened to Justice?: "The Lessons of Simón Bolivar" and "Eating the Seed Corn."

Read the next section of Journey to the Source of the Nile: it takes in the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next.

Do some punctuation exercises in The Easy Grammar Plus, and writing exercises in The Roar on the Other Side. Work on graphing equations in Key to Algebra.

Latin: Start lesson VIII.

Finish our art study of Albrecht Dürer, and composer study of Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

What's for supper? "Hurry up, Spring" Sunday dinner

On the menu:

Chicken and gravy
Mashed potatoes
Mixed veggies
Spring rolls

Strawberries, figs, and cookies. Ice cream for those who wanted it.

Quote for Sunday: C.S. Lewis and faith

"We can understand the relation in Lewis between his literary, cultured work and his religious faith more clearly if we look at some details of his conversion to Christianity. We will ask, what was his conversion, and in particular, what was it not? First of all, it would not be appropriate to say, in a phrase one often hears, that Lewis 'accepted Christ into his life....' For him it is essential that the Christian not think of belief as a way of bringing something into his or her life, but, rather, as a way of being brought out into a larger world or sense of the world....The direction of conversion for Lewis is very much the opposite, of moving outward into something larger and more important than the self." ~~ Wesley A. Kort, C.S. Lewis Then and Now (page 22)